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Get your Kicks on (the unusual side of) Route 66

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Get your Kicks on (the unusual side of) Route 66

story by: House of Travel

Iconic road trips can shape a country's tourism. Towns and attractions of all shapes and sizes pop up along these famous stretches of road, and entire industries can live or die based solely on the traffic.

In fact, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, found in its study that the famous highway Route 66 can bring in an annual total of around US$132 million, or NZ $220 million. That's pretty great for a highway that is legally no longer a highway.

What is Route 66?

The history of the US's 'Mother Road' dates back to 1926, when its numerical designation was granted by Congress. It was designed in its odd, curving shape to include rural communities in states such as Illinois, Kansas and Missouri, so that farmers and truckers had better access to Chicago. All totalled, it stretches for nearly 4,000 kilometres.

In the nearly 100 years that has passed since, this route has gone down in US history as a fantastic way to see the country, filled with unique Americana sights. So what are some of the more unusual things to see along Route 66? Let's find out.

Cadillac Ranch

Just outside the city of Amarillo, Texas, you'll find something you likely won't be expecting to see. Cadillac Ranch is an artistic, kaleidoscopic tribute to the eponymous marque's tail fin design, spanning models from 1949 to 1963, according to Roadside America. 

What this amounts to is numerous cars dug nose-first into the ground, sticking out at an angle of around 20 or so degrees. Over the years, graffiti and destruction has been rampant here (and encouraged), leading this place to have an almost post-apocalyptic feel.

Shoe Trees

The Americans have taken a liking to throwing things onto other things, thus converting them into odd tourist attractions. One such is the Shoe Tree located nearby Roy's Cafe, Amboy, CA. Much like many towns along the old Route 66, this natural feature has taken somewhat of a tumble - literally. It's on the ground.

You'll need to get out of your car to spot the Amboy Shoe Tree, as you might not be able to see it from the road. However, if you have anyone on Facebook who is obsessed with shoes, this is the perfect attraction to tag them in.

Dixie Truckers Truck Stop

Watch any American road trip movie and you'll probably see the protagonists stop at a classic truck stop. You'll get this same character-filled experience on your Route 66 adventure if you stop at Dixie Truckers, now owned by Road Ranger USA. 

Having been opened way back in 1928, this is genuinely the oldest truck stop in the country, according to Road Ranger's site. Most of the old signs are still in place, too, to maintain that classic kitsch look of ye olden days. One amazing fact about this place is that it has only ever closed once - and then only due to a fire. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week - so make sure to pull up and fill your belly.

Painted Desert and Petrified Forest

Geology and nature lovers will get a kick out of Route 66's natural wonderland, the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. The visitors centre here has a range of fossils and unique exhibitions to view, though be sure you enter the park itself to see this surreal landscape yourself. If you have time, the Painted Desert Inn is a restored, 1920s pueblo-style building that overlooks this alien place, and functions as a museum. Did we mention that it was once constructed with petrified wood? We didn't even know you could build with that!

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